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Marathi Bonanza at NCPA

Theater aficionados, keep your schedule free from August 3 to August 7. The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) is all set to host a fresh array of plays ranging from human folly to socio-political drama as part of the third edition of Pratibimb- Marathi Natya Utsav.

The five-day festival includes From Avishkar Production’s Chitragoshhti, which showcases interesting stories of family tensions and life in the metropolis, Rangmala’s Shivaji underground in Bheemnagar Mohalla, which highlights the relationship between history, human race and emblems, and Pune Municipal Kamgar Union’s ‘Satyashodhak’, which emphasises on casteism in our society. The festival promises an enriching and enlightening mix of experimental Marathi theatre for its patrons. Deepa Gahlot, Head- Programming (Theatre and Film) NCPA, comments, “All the plays are largely based on relevant societal themes, making a powerful collective statement. The festival is our initiative to revive Marathi theatre culture which is buzzing with activity right now.”


The play Satyashodhak deals with issues of casteism and social reforms in society

Overwhelmed with the success of the first two editions of the festival and the massive audience it drew from different sections of society, Gahlot feels that non-commercial Marathi plays need to get their long awaited applause from the audience. “NCPA aims to be the platform for this initiative,” Gahlot adds. “Theatre lovers in Mumbai need to be exposed to good Marathi experimental theatre.” The festival’s inaugural play, Sushama Deshpande’s Chitragoshhti (painting stories) is a fine example of experimental theatre.  “Ours is one of the first plays in India to be based on paintings. We have adapted eleven paintings and four sketches of celebrated Marathi painter Sudhir Patwardhan,” reveals Deshpande .

So how did Deshpande adapt and translate the paintings into a 1 hour 45 minute-long play? “Patwardhan’s paintings depict the common man and his struggle. There was this particular painting named ‘Lower Parel’ which shows a bridge with people standing underneath. On one side of the bridge there are textile mills that have closed down causing unemployment whereas the other side of the bridge shows high-rise buildings and sky-scrapers mushrooming, thus depicting a stark contrast within the city. I roped in amateur theatre students and asked them to improvise on the way they perceived these paintings, and their improvisations and successive discussions led to the emergence of the script,” explains Deshpande.

“The non-commercial Marathi theatre scene and the fraternity has some great plays to offer,” Deshpande adds. Other theatre groups performing at the festival are elated at the opportunity the festival affords them, giving them a chance to showcase their talent and reach out to a larger audience.  Atul Pethe, director of Satyashodhak says, “This is a great opportunity to reach out to a larger audience and propagate our message.” Pethe has clean-up workers from Pune Municipal Kamgar Union playing lead roles in his play about casteism.

Nandu Madhav, director of Shivaji Underground in Bheemnagar Mohalla agrees, “Viewers who were ignorant of this theatre form, will get an opportunity to catch some great plays.” Each performance will be followed by a discussion with the cast and crew, to help viewers understand the plays better. The festival will also felicitate Satish Alekar, Marathi playwright and director at the opening of the festival for his outstanding contribution to the field.  

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